Choosing an Executor for My Will
Updated: Mar 17
While you may be tempted to name the first family member who comes to mind or who you love the most as the executor of your Will, you should consider the characteristics of the individual to determine if that person has what it takes to handle the responsibilities of your estate.
For some, choosing an executor for their Will is an afterthought. They simply name a good friend or sibling. In some instances, the testator, (the person who executed the Will) doesn’t even bother to inform the person that he or she was named executor. Choosing the right executor is a critical component of your Will.
Duties of an Executor
An executor (also known as an executrix if female) of your Will is the person you name and the court then appoints who has the legal responsibility to take care of all of your remaining financial obligations after you die, from taxes to bills, to loans, and more. After the obligations are settled, the executor then distributes any remaining funds to your chosen heirs.
Organized and Detail Oriented
Being organized and paying attention to detail are two critical features you should look for in your executor. It is not a good idea to choose a person that you know can never find their keys, doesn’t file their taxes on time, or is always making mistakes on paperwork.
The person that you select should also be honest, dependable, and level-headed. Even with small estates, there are a number of deadlines and requirements that the executor must meet. For example, in some states the executor is required to file paperwork with the court and to obtain a Letter’s Testamentary (the probate court issued document giving a person the power to act as the executor). The executor must then contact and work with your creditors, beneficiaries, attorney, accountant, and others. If you have a large estate, the executor will have even more to do.
Keeping it all in the Family?
It is not necessary to have a family member serve as your executor. In some cases, attorneys or third-parties are chosen. Regardless of who you choose, it is crucial that you know that this person is honest and of high moral character. This means you need to get to know the person before asking him or her to serve as executor. Just about every week there are news stories where a family member or attorney stole money from an estate the executor was administering.
While some services and companies will serve as your executor, it is generally a better idea to select someone you know and trust rather than a stranger. Family and friends will typically put much more love and effort into administering your estate than an outside company.
The Best Choice
Administering a Will typically takes time, work and great attention to detail. Generally, an excellent choice for executor is someone who will treat the handling of your estate as a significant responsibility and who will act accordingly.
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Gentreo is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm, or attorney, or an attorney’s advice or recommendations.